As treacherous snow continued along the East Coast on Saturday night, so too did the No. 12 Yale men’s hockey team’s undefeated streak, which extended to nine games this weekend as the Bulldogs earned three points in two conference contests.
The Bulldogs (12–4–4, 6–3–3 ECAC Hockey), despite rallying from an early deficit, could not secure an overtime win against Clarkson (11–10–3, 3–6–3) on Friday, ending the contest with a 2–2 draw. The next night, an improved offensive performance was enough for Yale to take a 3–2 victory against St. Lawrence (11–11–2, 5–6–1). Five different skaters for Yale contributed goals on the weekend, which bumped the Bulldogs up from fifth to fourth in the ECAC standings.
“I think any time we can come away with three points against two really tough teams like Clarkson and St. Lawrence on the road that’s huge,” forward Ryan Hitchcock ’18 said. “Overall, it was a successful weekend.”
Facing a Clarkson team hot off a 5–1 road victory against No. 8/9 Harvard, the Eli offense started the weekend off strong by eliminating a 1–0 Knight lead by the end of the first period. Defenseman Nate Repensky ’18, playing in his seventh game this season after returning to the lineup from injury on Dec. 11, scored his first goal of the 2015–16 campaign. On a power play following an interference call drawn by forward Chris Izmirlian ’17, forward Stu Wilson ’16 took the puck from the Yale net across the ice to set up a slapshot for Repensky, which tied the game at one with six minutes left in the first.
After no score for the remainder of the period, Yale would take the lead just 11 seconds into the middle frame. Forward Carson Cooper ’16 beat a defender to a puck in the corner of Clarkson’s zone before quickly passing to linemate John Hayden ’17 in front of the net. The play pulled Clarkson goaltender Greg Lewis to the side of the goal, giving Hayden an open net to fire a wrist shot over Lewis’ shoulder.
“Coop made a great forecheck to catch their goalie off guard,” Hayden said. “He made it pretty easy for me.”
Although the Bulldogs doubled the Knights in shots, 8–4, in the second period, Clarkson finished the game outnumbering Yale 33–23 in that category, marking the second consecutive weekend in which an opposing team had a double-digit edge on Yale in total shots.
Clarkson’s count of 33 shots included 16 in the third frame, compared to just three from the Eli roster. That threatening offense from Clarkson would eventually overcome the 2–1 Yale lead, as Knight forward Pat Megannety put through a rebound from the top of the crease eight minutes into the period to tie the game. The play was reviewed for a potential kicking call, but the goal was upheld.
Goaltender Alex Lyon ’17 saved the remainder of shots he faced, and Yale successfully killed off its third penalty of the game — retaining the Bulldogs’ status as the top penalty-killing team in the conference — to send the game into the overtime.
Despite shots from both sides, neither team could break the tie in the regulation period, and the match ended in a 2–2 draw.
“We obviously wanted the win Friday, but three of four points against difficult opponents is something to build off of,” Hayden said. “It’s important for us going forward to protect our leads by playing with the same intensity we have when coming from behind.”
On Saturday, Yale traveled 10 miles southwest to face St. Lawrence and this time took a turn at scoring first, establishing an early lead that the Saints could never overcome. Echoing their matchup against Clarkson, the Elis’ first goal on the board came from a power-play opportunity, this time a slapshot off the stick of defenseman Ryan Obuchowski ’16 midway through the opening frame.
According to Hitchcock, the early scoring was a result of more success playing aggressively and generating time in the offensive zone than the Bulldogs had against Clarkson.
That offensive success continued at the beginning of the second period, when the Bulldogs scored again 11 seconds into the frame — exactly the same time at which Yale scored its second goal the night before. This time, credit for the goal went to forward Joe Snively ’19, who found the net from the slot for his seventh goal this season.
“We got our forecheck started right off the draw,” Snively said. “Stu [Wilson] won a puck battle and found me in front. Fortunately I was able to poke it in — any goal in the first and last minute of a period is a big momentum swing.”
Although the Saints scored twice in the third period, the Elis never allowed the score to become even. A goal from forward Ted Hart ’19 halfway through the third came before the second St. Lawrence goal, allowing Yale to end the weekend on a high note.
Lyon held off Clarkson during a 6–5 advantage in the final minutes of the game when the Saints pulled goaltender Kyle Hayton from the net on two separate occasions. Lyon’s 36 saves in the game pushed the junior into sixth place in Yale career saves with 2,035 since his freshman debut.
Yale will return home to Ingalls Rink next weekend to take on Union and Rensselaer.